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Barely over, the Tokyo Olympics have already marked the minds of fans across the world, especially those who’ve been patiently waiting to see sports like skateboarding, climbing and surfing make their Olympic debut. Enjoying growing popularity in recent years, these sports have proven to be a good way to engage with the youth, especially for an organization who’s been struggling with aging audiences in the last few years.
Impacts on the Olympics
By including sports like skateboarding and climbing to their events, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, wanted to “ to inspire children by giving them better access to sport ” and the audience data released so far seem to indicate it worked. Indeed, Reuters reported, even before the end of the Olympics, a significant increase in the general audience due to the introduction of new sports, especially in Brazil, where skateboarding and surfing were among the 10 most watched events during the first week.
Additionally, despite a decline in overall viewership, NBC noticed a decrease in the median age of viewers on its streaming platform, Peacock, dropping to 36 years old in 2021, down from 53 years old in 2016. This transformation was accompanied by the undeniable rise of apps such as TikTok, which were also used for promotion and content creation during the event.
These platforms are mainly used by teens and young adults, a fact that cannot be ignored in the current context. In the same way, young athletes who are becoming more and more influential have proven they deserve their place at the Olympics. Momiji Nishiya, a 13 years old Japanese skateboarder, even won the gold medal this summer, proving once again how important the presentation of youth-oriented sports is for the Games.
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Impacts on the community
Tony Hawk, skateboarding pioneer, had already mentioned : « they need us more than we need them ».
With the support of an organization like the Olympics and their growing visibility, it is inevitable that communities of sports like rock climbing or skateboarding will see their conditions, but also their future prospects, improve. From new infrastructures to athlete development, it’s hard to imagine a future where these “new” sports do not flourish.
TRIBU and JACKALOPE have been supporting these sports communities for more than 10 years. We foresee big changes in the Canadian sports sponsorship habits. According to CSLS (Canadian Sponsorship Landscape Study), 45,3% of all sponsorship investments were made in professional sports in 2019, far ahead of festivals (13,1%) and amateur sports (16,5%).
These statistics, combined with the growing interest in sports like skateboarding or climbing, show one thing : investment in “subculture” sports must be taken seriously by companies who want to capture young people’s attention.